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3:40pm Monday 21st October 2013 in Letters
YOUR editorial attack on Judge Leveson surprised and saddened me, and was quite unworthy of your normally even-handed approach to public issues.
Of course, Leveson is “unelected”, but he was invited by the Prime Minister to chair an inquiry into the appalling excesses of some branches of the Press, a task which he discharged with scrupulous care and diligence.
Like the rest of us he was clearly shocked by the behaviour of some journalists in invading the privacy of both celebrities and ordinary members of the public, which had gone unchecked by the woefully ineffective tame in-house PCC for many years.
He was at pains in his report to recommend a new approach which would effectively regulate such behaviour in future, if necessary by deterring wealthy press barons with serious financial penalties.
Your characterisation of his report is arrant nonsense; he explicitly rejected state regulation and emphasised that his approach would enhance not restrict press freedom of expression.
Subsequently, the Government and opposition have sought to implement Leveson’s approach in discussion with the Press, though clearly the latter would prefer to reinstate something similar to the old regime – namely a regulator handpicked by themselves.
As usual politicians are now reluctant to fall out with the Press and so are vacillating on their approach in order to try to satisfy Press preferences – an impossible task.
So the Commons committee summoned Leveson in order to try to get themselves off the hook.
He in turn took the reasonable view that everything he has to say on the subject is already in his long report – so the rest is up to them.
For you to attack him for this is unfair and unprincipled, though par for the course for the Press when under attack.
But the problem is entirely of your own making.
I’ll be surprised if you print this, but if you support free expression perhaps you will.
STEVE SMART Malvern
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